St Ives! Always one of my favourite haunts. Whether it’s a yellow card on my debut or another one a few years later for dropping the c-bomb on a ten year old, the venue holds so many happy memories on a personal level. To add to the excitement, the opposition’s twelfth man, Jan, had started the mind games early, promising cold showers after the end of the match. Perhaps that was a good thing; it was a scorching hot day after all, so we’d need them.
Having navigated the A14 despite the absence of pakoras, the fifteen-strong squad went through their paces, buoyed by their victory over Wisbech the previous weekend and further excited by opposition numbers looking a little thin. South started the game strongly and, after a few good openings, took the lead when Lamming placed a pinpoint shot past the goalkeeper’s right foot.
The game then became a bit sticky, with James B taking it upon himself to play the Aston role (see first paragraph), trading a few verbals with Ives, as the big man himself was left back too far away from the action to get involved! Having got inside their heads though, James then did his talking with his stick (ahem), getting beyond the forward line to poke home on the reverse after a goalmouth melée.
Two-nil to the good and South kept the free-flowing hockey going, switching the ball around when nothing was on, and the front line wreaking havoc when something was.
It was against the run of play when St Ives scored from a short corner off Darren’s head. South didn’t let it slow their pace and soon restored order when Oil used his pace to great effect as he sprinted away from the last defender and slotted the ball between the keeper’s legs for three-one.
Half time came and captain Stu pressed the need for calm and to approach the second half as if it was nil-nil. South began this to great effect, with the front line setting up a couple of two-on-one (and one three-on-one) situations. Unfortunately they couldn’t convert these chances, with one particularly great save from the keeper stopping Harry Lewis.
Midway through the second half, St Ives got a goal back with another great short corner routine being deflected home. Ten minutes later they were level with a reverse stick strike from the top of the D finding the bottom corner.
And pretty much that was that. South looked threatening in the last few minutes but couldn’t find the winner in a match we felt we had dominated. We always get a card at St Ives so the last order of business was to decide who took it: Harry Chalk stepped up, deliberately kicked the ball and that was that.
Credit to St Ives for fighting back - they had well-worked short corner routines which will win them many points in tight matches. And credit to them as well for turning on the hot water for the showers! Match teas were great too, enough sausages for three each - just like the game!
As Dave Aston always says, you can never have too much sausage.